Free @ Harper Audio: Richard Matheson, Neil Gaiman, Marcia Talley

SFFaudio Online Audio

Harper Audio, as part of their “Summer of Books” promotion, is giving away three must download short stories from their recent and upcoming audiobook releases. These are “limited time” releases, so download them right away.

Harper Audio - Road Rage by Richard Matheson, Stephen King and Joe HillDuel (from Road Rage)
By Richard Matheson; Read by Stephen Lang
1 |MP3| – Approx. 63 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: February 2009
“Driving to San Francisco, a businessman finds himself the victim of a deadly game being played by the driver of a huge, mysterious truck. Later to become Steven Spielberg’s classic 1971 film.”

Harper Audio - Fragile Things by Neil GaimanA Study In Emerald (from Fragile Things)
By Neil Gaiman; Read by Neil Gaiman
1 |MP3| – Approx. 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: September 2006
Alluding to both the Sherlock Holmes canon and the Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos, this Hugo Award winning short story will delight fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, and of course, Neil Gaiman. A Study in Emerald draws listeners in through carefully revealed details as a consulting detective and his narrator friend solve the mystery of a murdered German noble. But with its subtle allusions and surprise ending, this mystery hints that the real fun in solving this case lies in imagining all the details that Gaiman doesn’t reveal, and challenges listeners to be detectives themselves.

Harper Audio - Two Of The Deadliest edited by Elizabeth GeorgeCan You Hear Me Now (from Two Of The Deadliest)
By Marcia Talley; Read by
1 |MP3| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: July 2009
“Need can make men desperate, but greed, in my experience, makes men stupid.” – From a new collection of short stories featuring “Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery”

[via Mary Burkey’s Audiobooker blog]

Posted by Jesse Willis

DRT Summer Showcase #3: The Knightmare

SFFaudio News

And here are details from the first of Decoder Ring Summer Showcase #3‘s program…

The Knightmare by Bill Cunningham

The man behind this production, Bill Cunningham, says that “The Knightmare is a hero cut from the same cloth as The Shadow or The Green Hornet.” Not unlike Decoder Ring’s Red Panda himself! In this 2-part episode, The Knightmare is fighting Hollywood gangsters, Hollywood cops and Nazis (probably not from Hollywood). Unlike RP this story is set in Los Angeles.

The KnightmareThe Knightmare (The Murder Legion Strikes at Midnight)
By Bill Cunningham; Performed by a full cast
2 Parts – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: May 30th, 2009 & June 6th, 2009

Podcast feed:

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/rss

Here’s a downloadable sample from the intro to the show |MP3| and |HERE| is the full press release.

Posted by Jesse Willis

In Our Time: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time with Melvyn BraggBBC Radio 4’s In Our Time radio show is always thoughtful and informative – a recent show on the topic of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is no exception…

“Melvyn Bragg is joined by David Bradshaw, Michele Barrett and Daniel Pick to discuss the anxieties and ambitions in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World

Bragg, the host, and his guests approach Brave New World from a very biographical/historical perspective – finding the roots for Huxley’s dystopia/utopia in his engagement with the legacy of H.G. Wells, eugenics, Social Darwinism, and his impressions of the United States (particularly New Mexico and California). All Alphas should have a listen |REALAUDIO|.

[via Anne Is A Man]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Phantoms by Dean Koontz

SFFaudio Review

Brilliance Audio - Phantoms by Dean KoontzPhantoms
By Dean Koontz; Read by Buck Schirner
12 CDs – 15 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: January 2008
ISBN: 9781423339267
Themes: / Horror / Suspense / Science Fiction / Mass Disappearance / California /

They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California. At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease. But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined…

I went into this novel with low expectations. Our resident Dean Koontz aficionado was telling me that Phantoms wasn’t one of Koontz’s best works. That’s the bright side about low expectations – it makes the mediocre seem better. My biggest complaint isn’t really with the story at all – but rather with its length. 15 hours is a bit too long for a novel with this content and plot – there’s a whole separate subplot about an escaped criminal and his subsequent interactions with a biker gang. These parts of the book get mentioned a couple of times by the main narrative – but are otherwise un-interactive until the end of the novel. That whole subplot might have made an interesting short story, if separate, but it ends up being a side-note that doesn’t come to any real fruition, except in what felt like a tacked on end piece. Still, the main narrative is rather compelling. Dr. Jennifer Page, who lives and works in the small resort town of Snowfield, California, is returning from the big city and in doing so she’s taking with her much younger sister Lisa. Their mom has recently died and Jenny plans to raise her younger sister in the small town. Unfortunately, their arrival in Snowfield yields a much more horrifying and surprising disaster than the mere death of their mom. Everyone in town is missing! Well, almost everybody is missing anyway, with those few who aren’t entirely disappeared being completely dead – having been killed in grisly or bizarre fashions. The only clue to what has happened in Snowfield, while Jenny has been out of town, is a near incomprehensible message scrawled onto a bathroom mirror.

Fans of certain H.P. Lovecraft stories, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Stephen King‘s The Mist will likely quite enjoy this tale. Thinking back on myself, it feels as if Phantoms would have made an excellent late 1960s or early 1970s Doctor Who serial. What I liked most about it was not the atmosphere of spookiness (that seems a high point to a lot of folks), but rather the care and attention to the back story and the explanations which Koontz put into the lead up to the events in snowfield. I can’t recall a lot of other novels that have dealt with the “mass disappearance” phenomenon. I do recollect one film on the topic, The Quiet Earth (it is terrific) but has a far different execution and feel than does Phantoms. Speaking of film, I recommend you shy away from the film version of Phantoms entirely – it trims down the plot (which you’d think would be good) – but manages to feel rather crappy all-around, despite being adapted to film by Koontz himself.

Phantoms gave Dean Koontz a reputation as a horror writer, Koontz describes the novel as “one of the ten biggest mistakes” of his life because, it earned the label horror writer, which he says he “never wanted, never embraced, and [has] ever since sought to shed.” I can see it. The actual novel is definitely working within the rules of Science Fiction. Sadly, suspense, which Koontz does embrace, is often confused with horror – and hence his problem. The initial publication of Phantoms in 1983 garnered the novel several positive reviews. But only Analog’s review clearly recognized Koontz’s attempt to put technology and science to the fore in Phantoms. Narrator Buck Schirner sounds a whole lot like Mel Blanc. He’s got a good range, and changes his voice for different character genders, ages, and accents. The cover on this audiobook is sadly wholly uninformative, as is the bland title. The novel should have been called “The Ancient Enemy” and the cover should have depicted an open sewer grate, or a sink full of jewelry.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick

SFFaudio Review

dr_bloodmoney150.jpgDr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Tom Weiner
7 CD – 8.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433245503
Themes: / Science Fiction / Telepathy / Post Apocalypse / Nuclear War / Satellites / Psychokinesis / California /

Philip Dick’s post-nuclear-holocaust masterpiece presents a mesmerizing vision of a world transformed, where technology has reverted back to the nineteenth century, animals have developed speech and language, and humans must deal with both physical mutations and the psychological repercussions of the disaster they have caused. The book is filled with a host of Dick’s most memorable characters: Hoppy Harrington, a deformed mutant with telekinetic powers; Walt Dangerfield, a selfless disc jockey stranded in a satellite circling the globe; Dr. Bluthgeld, the megalomaniac physicist largely responsible for the decimated state of the world; and Stuart McConchie and Bonnie Keller, two unremarkable people bent the survival of goodness in a world devastated by evil. Epic and alluring, Dr. Bloodmoney brilliantly depicts Dick’s undying hope in humanity.

The subtitle, of Dr. Bloodmoney is or How We Got Along After the Bomb, the idea for it came from the original publisher (ACE Books) who wanted to capitalize on the subtitle of the movie Dr. Strangelove. I can almost see it too. For me, this wasn’t Philip K. dick’s best novel. But, if you liked his best novel, you’ll like this one. I did. The thing is, no matter which one of Dick’s novels is your favourite, Doctor Bloodmoney will remind you of it – if only for the author’s voice. Dick, more than with any other emotion, writes with sympathy. You feel for his characters, their petty goals, their yearnings, their little prejudices. The plot on this one is almost unimportant, it’s also hard to sum up in a sentence, but I’ll try: A radio repairman with no limbs (due to phocomelia) has superpowers, which he uses to predict/cause WWIII, then becomes ultra-powerful as a big fish in a small pond.

The rule about writing what you know is more difficult in Science Fiction. Nobody’s been to Mars yet. Nobody has met an alien. But you can clearly see what Dick knows showing up on the pages of his SF novels. When he wrote Dr. Bloodmoney he was really into Jungian and Freudian analysis, he was reading Of Human Bondage and was probably an avid mushroom picker. The plot doesn’t really matter as this is a situation with a set of Dickian characters. What stands out, what will remain in my memory are the scenes, characters interacting with each other and themselves. Thinking their thoughts, acting their acts. When we meet the title character, Bruno Bluthgeld, for the second time later in the book, (he’s not the star), he’s showing off his talking sheep dog to a little girl. She asks to hear the dog speak. It does, and the tears came to my eyes. When Stuart McConchie goes into San Fransisco he parks his horse only to come back and find it eaten by the city’s underclass. It really is all there: The salesmen, the repairmen, the cheating wives, the murderous children and the sympathetic animals. Everything we expect from a Dick tale.

Blackstone Audio narrator Tom Weiner is fast becoming a new favourite. His natural timbre is basso but he can do a lot with it. Performance is the key, everybody gets a voice of their own. In this novel that’s especially necessary as there are more than a dozen characters sharing the plot and dialogue. Blackstone has more Dick headed to audiobook too. The Man In The High Castle has already been released. Ubik is winging it’s way to us right now and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, Valis, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch should be released over the next few months. We are living in very Dickian times my friends.

Posted by Jesse Willis